Upper Manhattan sets series of events to turn May 15 into ‘a carnival, a festival, and a celebration of a man who came here many, many years ago, and gave the Dominicans a claim on this great city at the very beginning of its history’.
By Douglas Feiden / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Juan Rodriguez — a sailor-turned-merchant who became the first non-native immigrant to New York City when he arrived in 1613 — may be unknown to most students of history, but he’s about to become a household name in upper Manhattan.
May 15th will be celebrated uptown as Juan Rodriguez Day to mark the 400th anniversary of the Afro-Caribbean explorer and trader’s move to the then-verdant city from his home on the island now known as the Dominican Republic.
As the first Latino and the first Dominican to settle permanently in the city, Rodriguez was the great forerunner of the vibrant and thriving community of today, said Ramona Hernandez, director of the City University of New York’s Dominican Studies Institute.
“We are happy, we are dancing! It’s a carnival, a festival, and a celebration of a man who came here many, many years ago, and gave the Dominicans a claim on this great city at the very beginning of its history,” Hernandez said.